2024 Yoto Carnegie Medals Awarded

The winners of the UK’s longest-running book awards for children and young people, The Yoto Carnegies, were announced today.

For the first time, the Yoto Carnegie Medal for Writing is awarded to a Black British author, and the current Children’s Laureate – Joseph Coelho – for his “beautifully descriptive” novel in verse The Boy Lost in the Maze illustrated by Kate Milner (Otter-Barry Books). The story portrays a boy’s journey into manhood and “cleverly integrates” the ancient legacy of the Minotaur with the contemporary journey of a teenager searching for his biological father.  

Coelho’s win is a fitting tribute to an award that is uniquely judged by librarians and to his outgoing tenure as Waterstones Children’s Laureate (2022-2024) where he launched the “library marathon” project – a personal mission which saw him visit and join a library in every region of the UK, a total of 213 nationwide, to highlight their importance and show the support they provide to local communities.  

The winner of the Yoto Carnegie Medal for Illustration is Aaron Becker for his “beautifully crafted” and “universal” wordless picture book The Tree and the River (Walker Books). Looking at the evolution of human impact on the natural environment through the fate of a lone tree and an enduring river, the timely story gives “a sense of hope”, with Becker’s use of color to depict the seasons “transformative” and use of light “exceptional.” 

The Yoto Carnegies celebrate achievement in children’s writing and illustration and are unique in being judged by an expert panel of children’s and youth librarians, including 12 librarians from CILIP: the library and information association’s Youth Libraries Group. The winning titles were selected from a shortlist of eight books in each category with the judges praising the “timeless storytelling” and “cyclical nature” of the winning author’s and illustrator’s work, allowing them to be “enjoyed in perpetuity”.  

Each year thousands of reading groups in schools and libraries in the UK and around the world get involved in the Awards, with children and young people ‘shadowing’ the judging process, debating and choosing their own winners. They have voted for their favourites from this year’s shortlist with Aaron Becker’s The Tree and the River scooping a coveted double-win. He adds the Yoto Carnegie Shadowers’ Choice Medal for Illustration to his Yoto Carnegie Medal for Illustration.  

The winner of the Yoto Carnegie Shadowers’ Choice Medal for Writing is announced as Tia Fisher for her powerful debut novel told in verse, Crossing the Line (Bonnier Books UK). Based on a true story about teenagers swept up into county lines, this ‘innovative and engaging’ story shows the power of poetry to convey difficult truths in a way that engages and excites young minds.  

The winners will each receive a specially commissioned golden medal and a £5,000 Colin Mears Award cash prize. The winners of the Shadowers’ Choice Medals – voted for and awarded by the children and young people – receive a golden medal and, for the first time this year, £500 worth of books to donate to a library of their choice. 

[Based on a press release.]

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